An Imperial province and modern region (oblast) in the north of European Russia. The province, formed in the reign of Peter the Great, was of gigantic area, though tiny in population. It extended from the Kola peninsula to the Ural Mountains, and included the island of Novaya Zemlya. The province was named after the city and port on the Northern Dvina River, 20 miles from the White Sea.
Archangel, which had been founded in 1553, was Russia’s only seaport until the founding of St Petersburg in 1703. The city was held by British troops from March 1918 (later joined by Americans and Italians) until September 1919, and a considerable area around was held by them and by White forces against the Bolsheviks, who eventually took Archangel in February 1920.
The present oblast is smaller than the Tsarist province: the Murmansk region, the Karelian Republic and the Komi Republic have all taken territory from it. Even so, it is huge, containing much of the basin of the Northern Dvina, the eastern coastlands of the White Sea, and the Arctic coast up to Siberia, as well as the islands not only of Novaya Zemlya but of the far northern archipelago of Franz Josef Land, annexed by the Soviet Union in 1926.